laejoh writes "Monty Python's 'Dead Parrot sketch' — which featured John Cleese — is some 1,600 years old. A classic scholar has proved the point, by unearthing a Greek version of the world-famous piece. A comedy duo called Hierocles and Philagrius told the original version, only rather than a parrot they used a slave. It concerns a man who complains to his friend that he was sold a slave who dies in his service. His companion replies: 'When he was with me, he never did any such thing!' The joke was discovered in a collection of 265 jokes called Philogelos: The Laugh Addict, which dates from the fourth century AD. Hierocles had gone to meet his maker, and Philagrius had certainly ceased to be, long before John Cleese and Michael Palin reinvented the yarn in 1969."
svnt writes "Janella Spears wiped out her husband's retirement account, remortgaged their paid-for house, and took out a lien against the family car in an attempt to cash in on the deal. A undercover officer involved with the investigation called it the worst example of the scam he's ever seen. Thoughtfully, Spears has gone public with her story as a warning to others not to fall victim."
djupedal writes "Booming like a 1980s video game, the Howler can even make liquids ripple — Oklahoma's largest ambulance company will become the first ambulance service in the nation to outfit its entire fleet with new Howler sirens, designed to emit low-frequency tones that penetrate objects within 200 feet — such as cars — to alert drivers." This is all well and fine, but I wonder what they plan to do when their sirens call up one of the big worms from deep below?
Jason Sahler writes "Recently St. Lucie County in Florida announced that it has teamed up with Geoplasma to develop the United States' first plasma gasification plant. The plant will use super-hot 10,000 degree Fahrenheit plasma to effectively vaporize 1,500 tons of trash each day, which in turn spins turbines to generate 60MW of electricity — enough to power 50,000 homes!"
gollum123 writes "The US Supreme Court has removed restrictions on the Navy's use of sonar in training exercises near California. The ruling is a defeat for environmental groups who say the sonar can kill whales and other mammals. In its 5-4 ruling, the Supreme Court said the Navy needed to conduct realistic training exercises to respond to potential threats. The court did not deal with the merits of the claims put forward by the environmental groups. In reinstating the use of sonar, the top US court rejected a lower federal judge's injunction that had required the US Navy to take various precautions during submarine-hunting exercises. The Bush administration argued that there is little evidence of harm to marine life in more than 40 years of exercises off the California coast. It said that the judges should have deferred to the judgment of the Navy and Mr Bush. Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said overall public interest was 'strongly in favor of the Navy.' 'The most serious possible injury would be harm to an unknown number of the marine mammals,' Chief Justice Roberts wrote. 'In contrast, forcing the Navy to deploy an inadequately trained anti-submarine force jeopardizes the safety of the fleet.'"
KindMind writes "IBM, in partnership with International Broadband Electric Communications, appears to be bringing back powerline broadband back from the dead. This time, the idea is to build out in rural areas not currently serviced by broadband, and isn't for competing with other broadband solutions. From the article: 'Their strategy is to sign up electric cooperatives that provide power to sparsely populated areas across the eastern United States. Rather than compete toe-to-toe with large, entrenched cable or DSL providers, IBEC is looking for customers that have been largely left out of the shift to high-speed Internet.'"
Oldyeller89 writes "LG, Sharp, and Chunghwa Picture Tubes pleaded guilty to charges of price fixing in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act. They fixed the prices on LCD screens used not only in their products but also in other products such as Apple's iPods. The three companies agreed to pay $585 million in fines. Perhaps this will cause the price of our TVs to drop?" The New York Times also has a story on the outcome of this case.
Da Massive writes "Microsoft has denied paying a Nigerian contractor $400,000 in a bid to retard Linux's movement into the government sector. Media reports alleged that Microsoft had proposed paying that sum to a government contractor under a joint marketing agreement last year, in order to persuade the contractor to replace Linux OS with Windows on thousands of school laptops. Although a joint marketing agreement was drafted to document the best practices for using technology in education, it was never executed, said a Microsoft regional manager for Africa. It became clear, he added, that one customer wanted a Linux OS."
gollum123 writes "New large-scale studies of DNA are causing a rethinking of the very nature of genes. A typical gene is no longer conceived of as a single chunk of DNA encoding a single protein. It turns out, for example, that several different proteins may be produced from a single stretch of DNA. Most of the molecules produced from DNA may not even be proteins, but rather RNA. The familiar double helix of DNA no longer has a monopoly on heredity: other molecules clinging to DNA can produce striking differences between two organisms with the same genes — and those molecules can be inherited along with DNA. Scientists have been working on exploring the 98% of the genome not identified as the protein-coding region. One of the biggest of these projects is an effort called the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements, or 'Encode.' And its analysis of only 1% of the genome reveals the genome to be full of genes that are deeply weird, at least by the traditional standard of what a gene is supposed to be and do. The Encode team estimates that the average protein-coding region produces 5.7 different transcripts. Different kinds of cells appear to produce different transcripts from the same gene. And it gets even weirder. Our DNA is studded with millions of proteins and other molecules, which determine which genes can produce transcripts and which cannot. New cells inherit those molecules along with DNA. In other words, heredity can flow through a second channel."
AnInkle writes "Seagate's 1.5TB Barracuda has been available for a couple months from multiple retailers. But shortly after release, reports of random freezes appeared on several sites. The hang apparently occurs in Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows Vista when streaming video or transferring files at low speeds. After a couple of weeks of silence, Seagate has finally officially acknowledged the problem. In a response to The Tech Report, they say they're investigating the 'issue' affecting 'a small number of Barracuda 7200.11 hard drives.' Acknowledging the 'inconvenience' is a start, but most users expect at least average performance and prompt service from the capacity king of data storage." In a related story, reader Lucas123 plugs a ComputerWorld piece examining the question of Seagate's plans to stay relevant at a time when SSDs increasingly capture OEM mindshare.
I really meant that in the sense of, "If you want to collect that kind of cash (i.e., 12.5% of our 2006 GDP), you'll have to come over here and take it yourself."
justelite writes "A decade-long mystery has been solved using data from ESA's X-ray observatory XMM-Newton. The brightest member of the so-called 'magnificent seven' has been found to pulsate with a period of seven seconds. The discovery casts some doubt on the recent interpretation that this object is a highly exotic celestial object known as a quark star."
prostoalex writes "The New York Times runs an article on AI export Danny Hillis and others starting a company called MetaWeb, that at first glance looks like Wikipedia with tagging, but on the second is really an open platform for Semantic Web, available to other developers. NYT explains: "That would make it possible for programmers and Web developers to write programs allowing Internet users to pose queries that might produce a simple, useful answer rather than a long list of documents. Since it could offer an understanding of relationships like geographic location and occupational specialties, Freebase might be able to field a query about a child-friendly dentist within 10 miles of one's home and yield a single result.""
paulraps writes "Sweden is close to implementing new surveillance legislation that will include the monitoring of emails, telephone calls and keyword searches using advanced pattern analysis. The objective is to detect 'threats such as terrorism, IT attacks or the spread of weapons of mass destruction' but the proposals have divided the country. In a misguided attempt to put people at ease, the government admitted that Sweden has been tapping its citizens' phones for decades anyway."
provigilman writes " GamePolitics reports that the Oregon man using the "Video Games made me do it" defense has been sentenced to life in prison by the presiding Judge. 19 year old Patrick Morris had been charged with murder for the 2006 shotgun killing of a 15 year old boy as part of a bad drug deal."